How to Play Splendor the Board Game

Splendor is an award-winning card-based board game. The game is defined by a clear set of rules and some strategic skills. It’s not your regular racing board game like Candyland. You’ll need to know the rules and how to play splendor well enough in order to have any chance at winning.

The game can be enjoyed by young kids and adults alike. No wonder it won the Best Family Board Game by the Golden Geek Awards in the first year of its publishing!

So, how do you play Splendor the board game?

 Well let’s get straight to the gameplay, rules, and instructions for mastering Splendor.

What Is the Splendor Board Game?

Splendor Board Game Info image

Splendor is a board game that requires skills of resource building and management. It is similar to the game of Monopoly when it comes to gameplay and to Battle of the sexes when it comes to the complexity level for a mature age group.

As many as four players can play this game – and the one who collects the most points wins. All it takes to win Splendor is to use the right strategy.

Number Of Players: 2 or 4

Ages: 10 and above.

Difficulty: Medium.

Length of Play: 30 minutes.

Main Objective: Build your collection of development cards and earn the maximum number of prestige points

Why We Love It: It is the perfect game that can bring together a family with members from all age groups. It’s engaging, strategic, and super fun!

Brief Overview Of Splendor’s History

Splendor was originally published by the company Space Cowboys, Asmodee in 2014. For its dexterity and creativity, the same year it went on to win several board game awards including, Tric Trac de Bronze, Dice Tower Gaming Awards, and more. It was nominated as the ‘Game of the Year’ the same year of publishing the game. Since then, the game has gained immense popularity and has expanded into more interesting versions.

The latest version released was in 2017, that is, the Cities of Splendor, which includes four modules. Over the span of six years, Splendor has continually been one of the most interesting board games to play with your family.

Splendor Board Game Equipment and Set-Up

To play the game, all you need is a complete splendor board game kit.

If you’re looking for the complete splendor kit with engaging graphics and cool tokens to enhance the game experience, you should try out this original one by Asmodee.

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The kit will typically consist of 2 types of cards, 5 types of gem tokens, and 1 gold token. In splendor, these cards and gems will determine who is the more prestigious player.

Using the gems and cards, you have to mine, collect raw gems, transport, shape, and showcase the glossy jewels as a wealthy Renaissance merchant. Let’s have a quick look at what these cards and tokens are all about here.

Cards (Total =100)

– The two types of cards are development cards and Noble cards. They are 90 and 10 in number respectively.

– Development cards are further of three types according to the difficulty level, each level indicated by a different color.

– Noble cards are of varied types and are like bonus cards that can be attracted by having several development cards.

– The development and noble cards have a number written on the top-left corner called the prestige point.

Gem Tokens (Total = 40)

– The 5 gem tokens include diamonds, emerald, sapphire, ruby, and onyx. They are each 7 in number and look like poker chips.

– The gold token is a wild card that can replace any of the above gems. They are only 5 in number.

– Gems are traded to get development cards.


– The three decks of development cards are separately shuffled and placed in a column. 4 cards from each difficulty level are removed randomly from the decks and placed face-up in the respective rows.

– The noble cards are shuffled and one card is removed for each player, another card is added and placed over the topmost row. (For 4 players, 5 cards are placed).

Splendor Rules and Game Guide On How To Play

Splendor board game rules image

Now that we are clear about every component of the game, it is understood that the tokens and cards are all like treasures (or resources), which when used strategically, will help us gain prestige points and win.

In a capsule, the splendor board game proceeds in the following order:

Collect gems → Reserve and/ or purchase development cards → Collect several development cards to attract nobles → Earn maximum prestige points to win the game

Let’s now understand each step in detail.

Playing A Turn

In a turn, a player can choose to do one of the following:

  1. Collect gems,
  2. Reserve a development card, or
  3. Purchase a development card.

Collecting Gems

When collecting gems, you have further two options; take 3 gems of different colors or 2 gems of the same color. The condition for the latter is that there should be at least 5 available gems in the reservatory, otherwise the player[5] will be left only with the former option.

When collecting gems, a player must consider which card he/she aims to reserve/ purchase, and collect gem tokens accordingly. One must also be observant of what other players are buying, in order to ensure that the card they have their eyes on is not purchased by an opponent before they have a chance.

At a time, a player must have a maximum of 10 gem tokens only.

Reserving a Card

To reserve a development card, a player needs to collect a gold gem token. This token cannot be collected without a reserve card. Once reserved, that card cannot be purchased by any other player. A player can reserve only 3 cards at once. Later, when the player has enough gems, the reserve card can be purchased.

Once a card is reserved and taken by a player, the topmost card from the deck of that row replaces the card.

Purchasing A Card

To purchase a development card, a player needs to trade the type and number of gems that the card mentions. According to the difficulty level of the row, the development cards demand more variety/ number of gems.

Once purchased, the card acts as a coupon for discounts when buying more development cards. The player gets a discount of 1 gem present on the top-right corner of the purchased card for any other purchases.

A Noble Visit

When a player collects several development cards, the player might be able to attract the attention of a Noble. This basically means that a player might be eligible to earn a noble card if he/she owns the number and type of development cards mentioned on the noble.

For example, if a noble card requires 3 diamond DCs and 3 sapphire DCs, and a player meets the demands, in their turn, the noble will ‘pay the player a visit’ or the player can own that Noble.

In a turn, if eligible for multiple Nobles, the player can only choose to own 1 noble. Owning a noble is not the part of a turn, a player still gets to play one of the above-mentioned options.

Scoring Points and Winning The Game

Every reserve/ purchase/ visit of a noble is determined by the points that the card will win the player. The prestige points from all cards are totaled to calculate the player’s score.

Once a player crosses 15 prestige points, the round is completed by giving every player a chance to have played an equal number of turns. The scores are then tallied and the player with the highest score wins.

Frequently Asked Questions About Playing Splendor

What Is The Expansion Of Splendor Called?

Owing to its popularity, an expansion of the Splendor board game was introduced three years after its publishing called the City Of Splendor.It consists of a total of four modules namely The Cities, The Trading Posts, The Orient, and The Strongholds.

What Happens When The Gem Tokens Exceed Ten Per Player?

A player is only allowed to possess 10 gem tokens. If that number exceeds, the player will have to discard the gem tokens, according to the player’s preference, down to 10. This makes it important to use a turn frugally and decide when to at least reserve a card if you don’t have enough gems to purchase it so that the gems don’t go waste.

How Does The Gold Token Work?

You get a gold token once you reserve a card and it is like a wild card that can be used to replace any gem token. The rules here may vary according to regional variations or to make the game easier/ harder.

To make it easier, the gold token can be used anywhere, to purchase or reserve any card. To make it harder, the gold token can be used only to purchase the card that you have reserved with it.

More Family Board Games That You Might Like

If you think the Splendor board game is a thrill-ride for the entire family, we have some other games you might also enjoy.

For some more board game fun with cards and strategy, you must try out 7 Wonders, Backgammon, 5 Second Rule, Machi Koro or Sushi Go. If you are ready to add twists to the gameplay and variations in rules, you always have games like Fibber (check out our Fibber instructions guide) and Hedbanz lighten up the mood.

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